You don’t need your kid to be a rocket scientist to be special. You don’t need to teach them 15 languages or the cello. It’s not a degree from Harvard or a perfect SAT that’s going to vault them into the elite category—not the elite category that counts.
“You may think this is a small thing,” the 20th century American officials Robert Lovett and Jack McCloy would say, “but you’d be amazed at the number of people Jack and I met in Washington during the war who had never learned to handle anything by themselves.”
If you want your kid to stand out, teach them how to be able to stand up. If you want your kid to succeed, teach them how to handle themselves, how to solve problems. That’s what will make them one in a million. There are plenty of Ivy League kids who struggle to make good decisions, to take care of business, to think and speak clearly. There are geniuses out there that, quite frankly, will say and do things that make you wonder how they even got out of bed this morning.
This isn’t to say you should lower your sights. It’s that you should make sure you’re aiming at the right thing. Degrees, fancy credentials, all the right experiences? What does it matter if they aren’t self-sufficient, if they can’t get things done?
Make sure you’re doing your job. The job that counts.